I heard a song today that reminded me of a man I once loved. It was no ordinary love (as if there is such a thing), but an all-consuming, heart-opening, blood-pumping kind of love. The kind of love that makes you earnestly nod along while watching Romeo and Juliet. The kind of love that makes you think that every love song is written for you. The kind of love that usually includes amazingly hot sex.
When I was dating this man, I literally yearned for him. You don’t truly know the meaning of that word — yearn — until you’ve had one of those relationships. It is the kind of wanting that awakens you in the night, literally aching for him, that spontaneously visits you at work and leaves you flushed, that makes you restless and distracted almost constantly. In short, you’re like a 14-year-old boy. All. The. Time.
I remember receiving texts from him that left me breathless and blushing. Hearing his voice made my heart flutter, and seeing him brought an involuntary grin to my face. I was completely addicted him. And to the sex we had.
When the relationship fell apart — actually, blew apart like a violent hurricane — and I had nothing but contempt left for him, I still couldn’t banish him from my skin and my body. Long after I no longer missed his voice or his face, I still longed for how he touched me. What we had done together was like heroin, and I was in serious withdrawal.
So, I searched for the methadone. I went on lots of dates and kissed lots of men, testing them for whether they could spark the same high he’d given me. But none came close. It took a long, long, long time until another man finally succeeded in wiping him from my soul and toppling him from the pedestal of my sexual ideal.
During my divorce, I read The Female Brain and, for the first time, fully understood the chemical dynamics of sex. I was almost relieved to learn about the hormonal cocktail that pulses through our brains as we have amazing sex with someone, and the very real withdrawal that we experience when that lover is removed from our lives. It’s not our imagination — sex and love really are drugs, at least from our brains’ perspective.
I don’t miss the man I used to love. Not one bit, anymore. But I do miss the feeling he gave me. And it was more than great sex — what we shared was heightened and deepened by the fact that we fell in love. The force of our emotions for each other was so powerful that it frequently left us dazed and bewildered by its strength. I miss that. I truly do. I miss having that kind of connection with a man where we cannot possibly get close enough to each other. I miss that hunger and that thirst for him. I miss feeling that this person was so dialed into me that I couldn’t resist him, even if I’d wanted to. I miss wanting someone so much that you’ll throw caution to the wind just to satisfy a base desire to conjoin with that person, NOW.
Some people argue that such an attraction is simply not sustainable. I don’t know if they’re right; I’ve only experienced it a few times in my life, and none of those men are still in my life, so perhaps there is truth in that. On the other hand, I have friends who have been married for more than a dozen years and still claim that kind of chemistry with their man, so I tend to think that, while rare, it’s far from impossible.
I have a theory that — for some of us — great chemistry is the glue that holds a relationship together, when anger or disappointment or frustration clouds our vision and makes us wonder why the hell we’re with this person. When, even in the midst of an argument, I can look at the man across from me and I think, “But I still want you”, I have given myself one very tangible, uncomplicated reason for sticking around and talking things out. In those moments, chemistry can break down the walls and serve as the gossamer bridge between lovers.
I think, for me at least, phenomenal chemistry is definitely not enough to make a great relationship, but I can’t have a great relationship without it. So, I will continue to politely reject the synthetic substitute, and instead wait for the real thing to take my breath away. Again.